I guess that the one advantage of having your local library be very small is that its smallness makes it easy to simply cruise the shelves, looking for whatever seems interesting. That's how I ended up reading Gig. Conceived as an update on Working, it collects 120 interviews with Americans about their jobs.
A lot of it's pretty sad. The UPS driver discusses what kind of porn they have in the bathroom of each of his delivery stops. The software engineer, a guy from Sarajevo, discusses the relative merits of socialism and capitalism. (He also talks a little about software development: "It is sometimes even pretty easy to write a program, but to make it so the users who will use the program cannot do anything stupid or cause some problems you have to imagine every single thing the user could do on keyboard. That part takes almost all of time. And it is a very boring time.") The major-label A&R guy has suicidal thoughts. Damn.
I think a few of the subjects try to steer around the topic of what they actually do at work. They'd rather talk about college or the union or their hobbies or their family. How many of us are, at bottom, embarrassed about the banality of what we do every day? Because the majority of what we do is by definition banal, right? And when we do enjoy our jobs, maybe we're a little embarrassed that we like them so much. When you talk about your job to people, do you try to make it sound either more or less appealing than it actually is? Or are you unflinchingly honest?
The book was an outgrowth of the now-defunct webzine Word.com, which I had never heard of before. As someone who publishes things on the web, it's kind of chilling to me that Word.com was apparently big and successful enough to publish a book -- a print book, a critically acclaimed print book, in fact -- and they've still vanished into near-nothingness.